Dan Reese ’92 grew up on cattle ranches in Nevada and Wyoming and developed an interest in emergency services after he witnessed the teamwork and cohesion of state firefighting personnel on private land. After graduating high school in 1983, he immediately went to work to earn his Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification. He also became a seasonal firefighter with the Nevada Division of Forestry as he began his studies at Northern Nevada Community College (NNCC) in Elko.
He transferred from NNCC to Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls, where he eventually decided to transfer his chemistry program credits to SOU in Ashland with the intent of pursuing a bio-chemistry degree. It was there that the Dean of Nursing at the time, talked him into pursuing a degree in nursing. “I loved the quaint community of Ashland and the great outdoor opportunities. The teachers on campus were passionate and sharp so things just really clicked for me,” he said.
Dan was able to do his clinicals at Rogue Valley Medical Center (RVMC) in Medford and Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass and later, while still a student, he landed a part-time position at RVMC as a monitor tech in the open-heart unit. Every summer, he worked for CAL FIRE as a wildland firefighter. In spring of 1992 he earned his bachelor of science degree in nursing and was hired by Mercy Medical Center in Redding as a surgical nurse then later moved into the ICU. Even with a full-time position, Dan was still drawn to wildland firefighting and continued seasonally with CAL FIRE for a total of ten years until he made the switch full time to firefighting in 1997 with them.
Dan’s career in health and trauma care bode well for him with CAL FIRE where he earned successive positions of increased responsibility. First as an engineer, next he received training and certification in CAL FIRE’s aerial firefighting operations and was promoted to captain. Later he was promoted to Battalion Chief of Aviation at CAL FIRE’s headquarters in Sacramento, where he led the initiation of the DC-10 air tanker program – the first swept-wing, jet air tanker program in the country. Dan eventually became the Chief of Tactical Air Operations for the State of California, and was also awarded the California Legion of Merit medal for his service from the California Army National Guard.
After retiring from CAL FIRE in 2015, Dan was lured back to work by an investment group looking for someone to lead their program to incorporate the 747-400 series aircraft into firefighting. Dan became President of Global SuperTanker Services, LLC, in 2018 and his brand-new program was immediately put to the test with the conflagration of the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise, California, killed 85 people and caused 17 billion dollars in damage. The aircraft flew 19 missions on the fire, certainly helping to save lives and homes. “Becoming President of this company was not something I ever dreamed of. It stretched me and was a challenge unlike any I had ever had in the profession but I’m sure glad that I did,” he said. “Every day is a job interview and if you’re having fun, it’s not really a job!”
Learn more: Global SuperTanker Services, LLC and Cal Fire